A new two-story jewel box entryway along Market Street, as depicted in this rendering, is part of Onyx Equities’ sweeping overhaul of the four-building Gateway Center in Newark. — Courtesy: Onyx/Gensler
By Joshua Burd
Eight new restaurants are coming to Newark’s Gateway Center, marking the latest step in a $40 million overhaul of the four-building office complex and its signature concourse.
An investment group led by Onyx Equities welcomed city officials, brokers and other stakeholders on Wednesday to highlight the new tenants, which include both grab-and-go and full-service concepts. The eateries have helped fill much of what will be a 100,000-square-foot retail and hospitality hub known as The Junction, part of a plan to reinvigorate the 2.3 million-square-foot complex adjacent to Newark Penn Station.
The restaurants include Serafina, Brooklyn Dumpling Shop, Fresh & Co, Greek from Greece Bakery & Café, Farinella, 375˚ Chicken & Fries, Chip City Cookies and The Brookdale.
“Real estate is getting to be more of an experience, especially after the pandemic,” said Jon Schultz, co-founder and principal of Onyx Equities. “Everyone wants to come back to something that they’re proud of — and I think we’re going to deliver that.”
Many of the operators were on hand Wednesday, as construction continued on both the concourse and a new two-story jewel box entryway along Market Street. Schultz welcomed the businesses while recognizing the Onyx team members involved in the transactions, including Vice President of Asset Management Matthew Flath, along with city and state officials and retail brokers with Pierson Commercial.
“I can’t tell you how proud I am that everyone is behind this vision of Newark,” said Schultz. He recalled when Onyx and its partners — which include Garrison Investment Group LP, Taconic Capital Advisors LP, Axonic Capital LLC and Prudential Financial Inc. — purchased three of the four Gateway buildings in 2018, noting that “we really wanted to be part of Newark’s redevelopment and we saw the role that Gateway can play in attracting new businesses.”
The group also envisioned “an overall upgrade to what this thing ought to and should be,” he said. Creating a food and beverage experience inside what was a tired, outdated network of tunnels and sky bridges was central to that plan, he said, one that’s now taking shape with the eight new leases.
Pierson Commercial’s Ryan Starkman said there was more to come.
“Being able to land these new tenants at The Junction at Gateway Center validates the direction we are going in with the retail offerings at the project,” said Starkman, a director with the firm, which serves as the property’s retail leasing team. “We hope to round out the lineup in the coming months with some more great brands and F&B concepts.”
JLL’s Tim Greiner, Blake Goodman and Colleen Maguire lead the office leasing team at Gateway, which stretches from Mulberry Street to Raymond Plaza West, having secured several high-profile deals during the renovation. Those include a 100,000-square-foot lease earlier this year by WebMD, along with a 117,300-square-foot extension last year by McCarter & English LLP.
As Onyx continues a sweeping upgrade designed by Gensler, it wants Gateway to be “a job perk” for those that work there, Schultz said. To that end, the firm is developing a dining and catering app that will be available to Gateway office tenants and visitors, who will be able to place orders from multiple dining establishments at one time and have food delivered at a predetermined time and date.
The developer also said Wednesday that it would create a platform to connect Newark residents and workers with the restauranteurs through a job fair, inviting city agencies to be involved. The job fair is expected to take place in early 2022 to coincide with completion of construction of The Junction’s renovations and the opening of the new restaurants.
Additionally, Schultz announced a competition for local restauranteurs, in which the final available restaurant space at The Junction will be built out and delivered to a Newark-based operators at no up-front cost to the eatery.
“This whole pandemic has impacted our city and our businesses so much, but when you have partners like Onyx that help us continue to charge and forge through a time as difficult as the last 20 months, it’s an incredible time to be here in the city of Newark,” said Allison Ladd, the city’s deputy mayor and director of economic and housing development. “I’m so grateful for what Onyx is doing — investing in our city, investing in our businesses and bringing businesses back here to the city of Newark.”
Onyx’s plans also include Gateway’s first-ever street-facing retail space, which would span roughly 10,000 square feet at the base of One Gateway and will become part of a new grand entryway to the complex. The space will likely serve as another amenity for the roughly 75,000 weekly visitors that typically pass through the complex and the population in the surrounding area.
“We are heartened to see that businesses agree with our belief that the Gateway Center is the conduit for commerce opportunities that will play a vital role in New Jersey’s post-pandemic economic recovery,” said Flath, the asset management executive. “Onyx is committed to working with our retail and office tenants to provide safe, healthy and exciting work environments that their staff feel comfortable coming back to.”